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Battle of Five Armies

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Battle of Five Armies
Capucine Mazille - The Battle of Five Armies.jpg
Conflict: Battle of Five Armies
Date: November 23, T.A. 2941 (speculative)[1]
Place: the slopes of Erebor, and the Valley and ruins of Dale
Outcome: Victory for the Elves, Men, and Dwarves

Elves, Men, Dwarves, and Eagles

Goblins, Wargs, Bats


Over 1,000 Elf spearmen and archers, est. 2-300 Lake-Men, over 500 Dwarves from the Iron Hills,[2] many Eagles, Thorin's 12 Dwarf companions, and Beorn

"innumberable" Goblins and Wargs; possibly 6-15,000 or more



Annihilated, not one survived

"Kill the Men!
Kill the Elves!
Save the gold
For ourselves!
― Dwarven warriors [3]

The Battle of Five Armies was an important battle waged in Third Age 2941. The five warring parties were the Goblins and the Wargs against Men, Elves and Dwarves on and near the Lonely Mountain, after Bard the Bowman killed the dragon Smaug.[4] Prior to the battle, the Men of the Lake and the Wood-elves had laid siege to the Dwarves in the Lonely Mountain, when thirteen dwarves in Erebor under Thorin Oakenshield refused to share any of the treasure they had recaptured from Smaug.[5]




As a result of Thorin's refusal to share any of the treasure, the dwarves were trapped in a bloodless siege, with Thranduil and Bard hoping to wait him out. However, Thorin had sent messages of his plight to his relatives using as messengers talking Ravens that lived on the Lonely Mountain. These reached Dain II Ironfoot of the nearby Iron Hills, and he marched to Erebor with 500 heavily armed Dwarves, most of them skilled veterans of the War of the Dwarves and Orcs. When Dain's forces arrived, battle was almost joined between the two sides (now three armies were on the field) but at the last moment Gandalf intervened between the two and revealed that while they were bickering amongst themselves, the Orcs of the Misty Mountains and Grey Mountains under Bolg were using the opportunity to march against them. They had been incited by Gandalf's earlier slaying of the Great Goblin, but had now mobilized for a full-scale attack after hearing news of the death of the Dragon and the now relatively unguarded treasure hoard.

The Battle

The three commanders agreed that the Goblins were the enemies of all and previous grievances between them were put on hold in face of the greater threat. They arranged their forces on the two spurs of the Mountain that lined the valley leading to the now-sealed off great Gate of Erebor; the only entrance to the Mountain that remained unblocked. The 500 Dwarves and 200 or so Lake-men formed up on one spur and over 1000 Elves on the other, while a light rear-guard lined across the mouth of the valley to lure the Goblins between the two spurs of the mountain, and thus destroy them. Bilbo Baggins tried to sit out the battle on Raven Hill which was held by the Elves.

Soon the Goblins arrived (and now four armies were on the field), and at first the plan worked: they were lured into the chokepoint and took heavy losses. However, due to their superior numbers, the allied Free people's did not hold the advantage long. The second wave was even worse than the first, and now many Goblins scaled the mountain from the opposite side, and began to attack the arrayed forces from above and behind, as the main wave pressed forward. The battle raged across the Mountain, and then a great noise was heard: Thorin and his 12 Dwarf companions inside the mountain had thrown down a section of the stone wall they had erected across the mouth of the gates, killing many Goblins. Thorin and Company emerged, covered in the best armour and armed with the best weapons in Erebor. Then Thorin yelled, "Rally to me my kinsfolk," and charged down into the valley to join the battle with many Dwarves and many Men and Elves joining them. Thorin advanced through the Goblins' ranks all the way up to the gigantic Goblins that formed the Bodyguard of Bolg, but could not get past them. The battle degenerated into a chaotic close quarters melee, no quarter asked or given.

As the battle was turning fully against the Free Folk, a large army of Giant Eagles of the Misty Mountains arrived, led by Gwaihir the Windlord. Bilbo was the first to spot their entrance on the scene (now there were five full armies on the field of battle) and began shouting that "the Eagles are coming!", a shout that was then continued among the other troops of the Free Folk. At this point Bilbo was knocked in the head by a large stone thrown by a Goblin from above on the Mountain, and he was knocked out. With the support of the Giant Eagles, the battle turned back against the Goblins. Then Beorn himself arrived at the battle, apparently having heard news that a large army of Goblins was on the move. This time he did not appear in his former shape of a giant Man, but in that of a gigantic Bear. Beorn drove through the Goblin lines, but paused to carry the wounded Thorin out of the battle with his paw. Beorn then returned to the battle with even greater wrath and smashed the ranks of the Bodyguard of Bolg, ultimately killing Bolg himself. The Goblins eventually panicked and scattered, to be picked off by hunting forces from the victors later.


Thorin Oakenshield had been mortally wounded on the field, and his nephews Fíli and Kíli died defending him as he lay on the ground with shield and body. Thorin died soon after the battle, after meeting Bilbo one last time.

After defeating the Goblins and Wargs, the victors divided the treasure. Bard took Bilbo's fourteenth share of the gold and silver in return for the Arkenstone, whereupon he shared his reward with the Master of Lake-town and gave the Elvenking Thranduil the emeralds of Girion. Bilbo, despite having forfeited his share, was offered a rich reward by Dáin Ironfoot but refused to take more than two small chests of gold and silver.

It is said that three quarters of the Goblin warriors of the North were killed on that day.

Other versions of the Legendarium

In its first versions, the conflict around Erebor ended after the Siege. While Bard and the Elvenking laid siege, Gandalf would arrive and negotiate a peace treaty. The actual Battle, dubbed by John D. Rateliff the "Battle of Anduin Vale", would be on the return journey, in what would later be known as the Vales of Anduin. There, Goblins and Wargs would waylay Bilbo. The Five armies in this incarnation were the Goblins, the Wargs, the Woodelves, the Woodmen, and Beorn Medwed leading a troop of bears.[6]

Portrayal in adaptations

1977: Rankin/Bass' The Hobbit:

The "Five Armies" are the Elves, the Men, the Dwarves, the Orcs (and Wolves) and the Eagles. Bilbo estimates the force of the Men and Elves on 10,000, but this may not be an accurate estimate. The number of dwarves of Thorin and Company to have died is eight, but only Bombur and Thorin are named among the dead. Only Óin and Glóin are shown as having survived the battle.[3]

2003: Sierra's The Hobbit:

The battle takes up most of the last chapter. Because Bilbo is the main character, his role in the battle is much expanded. After leaving Thranduil, he has to fight his way to Balin, Lianna, Corwin, Gandalf, Beorn, and ultimately Bolg.


  1. Karen Wynn Fonstad, The Atlas of Middle-earth (second edition), page 99
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "A Thief in the Night"
  3. 3.0 3.1 Rankin/Bass' The Hobbit
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "The Clouds Burst"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "The Gathering of the Clouds"
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, John D. Rateliff (ed.), The History of The Hobbit: Return to Bag-End, pages 713-4